Review Category : National News

‘Kayla’s Hands’ Live on in Playground Dedicated to Murdered ISIS Hostage

Courtesy Mueller Family(PRESCOTT, Ariz.) — The rain stopped in Prescott, Arizona, Saturday morning, just in time for Kayla Mueller’s family to cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art playground erected to honor her as a selfless humanitarian both in her life as an aid worker and in her captivity and death as an ISIS hostage.

In minutes, patient children bolted past the snipped shards of ribbon for the swingsets, jungle gym, slides and a 66-foot zip-line at the playground named Kayla’s Hands for a young American taken too soon. Her parents beamed listening to the joyful noise.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who survived Communist torture in the “Hanoi Hilton” as a Vietnam War POW, told well-wishers gathered in the rainbow-colored playground that he doesn’t call many people “hero,” but Mueller was one.

“I didn’t know Kayla but I sense in every account of her ordeal, the true meaning of humility,” McCain said in a short speech.

Mueller was a 24-year-old aid worker kidnapped by armed gunmen on Aug. 3, 2013 while traveling in a Doctors Without Borders vehicle in Aleppo, Syria. She died 18 months later still a prisoner of ISIS terrorists, in what her hostage-takers called a Jordanian airstrike. U.S. officials denied an airstrike killed her but her parents still do not know how she died or how the White House was able to confirm her death on February 10, 2015.

She adored the Syrian refugee children she worked with in southern Turkey, her friends have said.

This year her father Carl worked with the Prescott Kiwanis Club, of which he is a former president, to raise money from donors such as the Arizona Diamondbacks for the new playground, which will also finally offer handicapped kids in the high desert town a place to safely frolic. It has been an emotional anchor for him to cling to, happily adjusting the plans in recent months for the bouncy floor matting and the zip-line, which Kayla’s mom loves to sail down.

“We can feel Kayla here,” Carl Mueller said. “When the wind blows just right, we can hear her makin’ her music.”

The still grieving dad said he and Marsha will “be spending a lot of time here.”

“She lived her life for others, she used her hands to relieve suffering. She was not just sympathetic to the plight of the less fortunate, she was moved to action,” McCain told the crowd. “Her fellow captives spoke of her as an inspiration. Brave and defiant when she was abused and threatened, consoling and selfless to those who shared her suffering.”

Former ISIS hostages have spoken of her selflessness in captivity, where she tried to cheer them up, gave them strength and once even sacrificed an opportunity to escape to ensure fellow captives got away, ABC’s “20/20” reported last night in the segment, “The Girl Left Behind,” after more than two years of investigation.

In one incident in March 2014, Mueller even stood up to British ISIS executioner Jihadi John to correct him when he told other hostages that she had converted to Islam.

“Her love now echoes in the joy and laughter of children. What a fitting — what a fitting tribute,” McCain said, his voice finally breaking with emotion, as Marsha Mueller reached over to hug the war hero senator.

The Rev. Kathleen Day of Northern Arizona University, who Kayla befriended in college and who later became a close confidante of Carl and Marsha Mueller during her hostage ordeal, recalled how the young do-gooder from Arizona had said that “it’s never goodbye among friends” whenever she left Prescott for Turkey and Syria or other far-flung destinations.

“Today Prescott says to Kayla Jean, we will always love you, and indeed it’s never ‘goodbye’ because her spirit will live on in the laughter and the joy and the compassion and the friendship of this playground,” Day said.

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Dwyane Wade’s Cousin Fatally Shot Pushing Baby Stroller in Chicago

WLS-TV(CHICAGO) — Police in Chicago are investigating the fatal shooting of the first cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade.

Nykea Aldridge was pushing a stroller in the city’s Parkway Gardens neighborhood Friday afternoon when two men exchanged gunfire nearby, hitting her in the arm and the head, according to police. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Two people have been questioned in connection with the shooting but no charges have been filed, police said.

Aldridge, 32, was not the intended target, police said. A relative took custody of the child, who was not hurt, according to ABC station WLS-TV.

Wade, who was born in Chicago, signed with the Chicago Bulls this July in a move that was celebrated by the city as a homecoming. After news of his cousin’s death, he labeled the incident “senseless.”

On Saturday, he took to Twitter and elaborated on comments he made on Friday.

“The city of Chicago is hurting. We need more help& more hands on deck. Not for me and my family but for the future of our world. The YOUTH!,” Wade wrote.

He followed that up by writing, “These young kids are screaming for help!!!”

These young kids are screaming for help!!! #EnoughIsEnough

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) August 27, 2016

Wade’s mother, Pastor Jolinda Wade, echoed her family’s pain while speaking to reporters Friday at the hospital.

“We are now in a very, very sensitive grieving place,” she said while holding her sobbing sister Diana.

Despite the tragedy, Wade’s mother spoke of hope for those who commit such crimes.

“We’re still going to try and help these people to transform their minds and give them a different direction, so this thing won’t keep happening,” she said. “We’re still going to help empower people like the one who senselessly shot my niece in the head.”

In a statement Friday night, the Chicago Bulls said, “The entire Chicago Bulls organization is deeply saddened by the news of Dwyane Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Wade family during this difficult time.”

Official Chicago Bulls Statement on the Passing of Dwyane Wade’s Cousin:

— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) August 27, 2016

On Thursday, Wade spoke via satellite on a panel hosted by ESPN that was focused on gun violence. He called the issue “deep-rooted.”

“This is something that didn’t start today, this is something that isn’t going to end tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully, eventually, we can stop it.”

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Student With Down Syndrome Who Went Viral to Start College

WNEP-TV(LANSDALE, Pennsylvania) — A young woman with Down syndrome whose reaction to learning she was going to college went viral in April is now ready to begin classes.

Rachel Grace starts at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania on Monday. The student from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, looked into attending four schools and ultimately decided to attend ESU.

Although she’s an incoming freshman and has never lived on her own before, Grace said she’s not nervous.

“My parents are but I’m not,” Graced told ABC affiliate WNEP-TV.

And it’s true. Her mother Deb Grace admitted, “It’s exciting and it’s nerve-wracking and we’re excited for her, but really scared for us.”

“You might have to do a follow-up story to see how I am in a couple days,” Grace’s father, Tom, added. “Rachel’s doing a heck of a lot better than I am.”

Grace will take part in ESU’s Career Independent Learning and Living Studies program. The three-year program is tailored to students with intellectual disabilities.

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Trader Joe’s Knockoff Lawsuit Allowed to Move Forward

Ben Harding/iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals has allowed a lawsuit filed by grocery chain Trader Joe’s against a man who bought and resold its products at a mark-up to move forward.

The suit involves a Canadian man who allegedly purchased nearly $350,000 worth of Trader Joe’s products in Washington state, and resold them for higher prices a storefront branded “Pirate Joe’s.”

Trader Joe’s does not have stores in Canada

Michael Hallat claims his business was legal, and says his store looked nothing like a Trader Joe’s. His attorney says they are “weighing their options.”

The 9th Circuit claimed Hallat’s action could lower the value of the store’s American-held trademarks.

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Man Arrested, Charged With Murder of 2 Mississippi Nuns

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSON, Miss.) — A man has been arrested in connection with the killing of two nuns in Mississippi this week, the state’s Department of Public Safety announced late Friday.

“Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of 210 Aponaug Road, Kosciusko has been charged with two counts of capital murder in connection with the killing of two nuns in Durant earlier this week. After an exhaustive interview Friday evening, MBI agents were able to develop enough information to charge Sanders,” read a statement.

Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merril, originally from Wisconsin and Massachusetts, were found stabbed to death at home Thursday.

Friends of the pair said the two women served the poor and the community for more than 30 years and both were nurse practitioners.

MBI Director Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan said the suspect was a person of interest early in the investigation. He is being held i n an undisclosed detention center awaiting his initial court appearance.

Police in Jackson originally suspected a robbery took place. The Catholic Diocese said the home was broken into, and the nuns’ missing car was found a mile away, according to police.

A wake will be held for the nuns at St. Thomas Church in Lexington on Sunday, with a memorial mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson on Monday.

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Police Video Shows Woman Hearing About Shooting Death of Her Ex, an FSU Law Professor

Tallahassee Police Department(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The ex-wife of slain Florida State University law professor Dan Markel told Tallahassee police on the day of the shooting that she was in fear and worried that whoever shot Markel could be coming for her children next.

“I’m scared. I don’t know why this would happen,” Wendi Adelson told an investigator during a 2014 videotaped interview that spanned more than five hours.

“It really scares me because, I mean, if there’s someone out there that’s willing to do this to him. … I’m scared for the kids.

ABC News obtained a copy of the police videotape this week after a public records request.

Markel was killed on the morning of July 18, 2014. A prominent professor with a national reputation for provocative legal scholarship, he was shot in the head just as he pulled his car into the garage of his Tallahassee home. He died hours later in a local hospital.

Tallahassee police officers located Adelson early that afternoon at a local restaurant, where she was having lunch with friends, and drove her to the police station without explaining the details of the shooting.

The videotape of her police interview opens with her sitting alone in a barren, white-walled room. When an investigator enters, she tells him a friend just called to tell her there had been a shooting on the block where Markel lived.

“That’s what this is about,” the officer tells her as she begins to break down in tears. “There was a shooting at your home, or your ex-husband’s home. [He] has been taken to the hospital. He’s not going to survive.”

“Oh, my God,” Adelson says, sobbing throughout. “What happened. …I just don’t understand? How could this happen?”

Arrest Made 2 Years After Slaying

Earlier this year, Tallahassee Police arrested Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, two South Florida men with extensive criminal histories, and charged them in Markel’s killing. They were indicted by a grand jury and are facing the death penalty, if convicted. Both have entered not guilty pleas. They are scheduled for trial in November.

In a probable cause affidavit, police allege that Garcia and Rivera were “enlisted to commit this egregious act” and that police believe the motive for the killing “stemmed from the desperate desire of the Adelson family to relocate Wendi and the children to South Florida, along with the pending court hearing that might have impacted their access to the grandchildren.”

Contentious Divorce

Markel and Adelson, who at the time was also an FSU law professor, had been through a bitter divorce that was finalized in 2013. Prior to the settlement, Markel had successfully fought her attempt to move with their two young sons to south Florida for a new job and to be closer to her family.

Adelson’s parents and her brother, Charlie, run a successful dentistry practice in Broward County.

After Adelson was ordered by the court to remain in Tallahassee, she and Markel continued to spar over financial issues and his contention that she had not been abiding by the terms of their parenting agreements. In the months just prior to his slaying, Markel alleged that Adelson’s mother was making disparaging remarks about him in front of his sons.

His motion seeking to limit his mother-in-law’s unsupervised interaction with the children was pending before the court at the time of his death.

Court documents made public in June linked Garcia, one of the alleged hit men, to Charlie Adelson through Adelson’s former girlfriend, who was also the mother of Garcia’s children. The arrest affidavit alleges that Charlie Adelson “reportedly did not like Markel and did not get along with him.”

No one in the Adelson family has been charged in connection with Markel’s killing.

Lawyers for the Adelsons, in a joint statement issued earlier this month, stated that “none of the Adelsons – Wendi, her brother, Charlie, or their parents Donna and Harvey – had anything to do with Dan’s murder.”

“[Investgators] have spent the past two years reviewing every shred of evidence out there — every phone record, financial record, text message, email, internet search, everything,” the statement says. “We understand why the government has put the Adelson family through this type of severe scrutiny. But nothing has turned up that supports this fanciful fiction that the Adelsons were involved.”

When asked in her videotaped interview whether she thought someone would kill Markel for her benefit without asking her, Wendi Adelson said, “No.”

But she acknowledged being “scared someone maybe did this – not because they hate Danny but because they thought this was good somehow.”

Charlie Adelson Allegedly Jokes About Hiring a Hit Man

Adelson then recalled an eyebrow-raising phone conversation with her brother Charlie earlier that day, as they were discussing what to do about a television he bought her that had broken down.

“And I was talking to him about whether it made sense to pay to fix it or I should get a new one,” she said. “And it was always his joke that, like, he knew that Danny treated me badly, and it was always his joke, he said, I looked into hiring a hit man but it was cheaper to get you this TV.”

“[H]e’s my big brother, and he’s been taking care of me since I was little,” she continued. “But he would never – and I told that to the repair guy that this morning. He asked me how much it cost, and I said I didn’t know because it was a gift because my brother said it was cheaper than a hit-man. It was my divorce present. Such a horrible thing to say. I’m so, so sorry.”

“But even my family who felt like I had been mistreated would never do something like this,” Adelson said. “Never.”

Asked whether she would have ever asked someone to kill her former husband, she replied: “Not in a million years.”

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Mom Dies Trying to Rescue 2-Year-Old Son Who Fell in Lake, Officials Say

Courtesy Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C.(LAKE POWELL, Utah) — A 35-year-old mother and attorney from Colorado died this week while rescuing her 2-year-old son, who fell overboard in a Utah lake, according to authorities.

The tragic accident happened this past Tuesday, when the mom had been boating with her family at Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, according to a National Park Service (NPS) news release on the same day.

At one point, the 2-year-old boy suddenly fell overboard, and his mother — identified by family and friends as Chelsey Russell — immediately jumped into the lake.

Russell held her son above the water until her brother, who was in another boat, came by and pulled them out, the NPS said. The 2-year-old was OK and in stable condition but flown to a nearby medical center in for a precautionary medical evaluation.

But Russell was unconscious when she was pulled from the water. CPR efforts were immediately started on the boat, according to a news release on Tuesday from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in Utah. Responding park rangers continued resuscitation efforts but were ultimately unsuccessful, the NPS said. It added that the “cause of death is presumed to be drowning, but is pending coroner’s confirmation.”

However, a colleague of Russell’s who has been in touch with the family told ABC News Friday that the cause of death was heart failure.

A spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health, which runs the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office, referred ABC News’ requests for information about the cause of death to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

A spokeswoman at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News that the sheriff, who is responsible for handling media inquiries, was not available Friday to provide additional information outside of the press release issued Tuesday.

Park officials said Russell’s death was the sixth fatality in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area this year.

“A common denominator in more than 120 fatalities at Lake Powell in the last decades is that victims were not wearing life jackets,” said Meri Sias, acting chief ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in the NPS news release. “While life jackets are required for children 12 years of age and under, all boaters on Lake Powell are encouraged to wear life jackets.”

Another park official said that there “are no words to convey the tragedy of losing a loved one like this.”

“Our hearts are with the family and friends of the victims during this time of unexpected pain and loss,” said Teri Tucker, acting superintendent for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in the news release.

Russell’s family is “still pretty devastated” and isn’t responding to media requests for comment Friday, according to Amy Seneshen, managing partner at Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C. — the law firm where Russell worked at as an associate attorney.

Seneshen told ABC News Friday that the firm has been in contact with the family and that Russell’s 2-year-old son “is doing great.”

Russell “was a superstar in every aspect of her life,” Seneshen said. “She was an incredible mom, a tremendous legal talent, a great athlete and a friend to everyone who knew her. She will be sorely missed by everyone here.”

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Video Shows Teen Who Was Shot by Police in 2013 Appearing to Surrender

David Shanies(NEW YORK) — Surveillance video from 2013 seems to contradict the ruling that a police-involved shooting of a New York City teen holding a BB gun was justified, according to the teen’s attorney.

In Dec. 2013, an NYPD officer fired 16 shots at then-15-year-old Keston Charles during a foot chase after he was approached at his Brooklyn housing complex, the teen’s lawyer, David Shanies, told ABC News. Charles was hit three times, Shanies said.

The video shows Charles running from multiple police officers throughout the property of Brownsville Heritage Houses in Brooklyn, which is run by the New York City Housing Authority. The chase ended at the entryway to Charles’ apartment building, and the video shows several officers, in uniform and plainclothes, approaching him with guns drawn as he appears to surrender by dropping to his knees with his hands on his head.

Charles dropped the BB gun he was carrying as he was running toward the entryway to his building and was shot the first time by an officer, he said in a sworn deposition taken in May. As he turned to look at the officers, he was shot a second time in his side by the same officer, he said. He was shot a third time in the front by the same officer, he said. The officer allegedly continued to shoot after Charles had put his hands on his head, he said. Charles survived the shooting.

After an internal NYPD review, the shooting was found to be justified, Chief of the NYC Special Federal Litigation Division Patricia Miller told ABC News. A final determination from the NYPD that the shooting was justified was signed off by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Jan. 12, 2015.

“As we have argued in our motion before the court, the evidence establishes that the shooting was justified,” Miller said.

But Shanies said the video “definitely contradicted” the officer who shot Charles’ claim that the teen had pointed the BB gun at him.

“Anyone who watched that video and asked themselves whether the officer’s story is true can conclude that themselves,” Shanies said.

Shanies said that the law “makes it clear” that a police officer cannot shoot someone for “simply running away” and that they cannot shoot someone “who is surrendering with his hands on his head.”

“Both those things happened here, and the shooting was totally unjustified,” he said.

The officers “unlawfully approached” Charles, “without probable cause and without a warrant,” according to the civil complaint filed in May 2014 against the NYPD and the City of New York.

The lawsuit claims that the City of New York “directly caused the constitutional violations suffered by” Charles because it was aware that some NYPD officers have a “tendency and predisposition for unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional conduct and or have been poorly trained, supervised and disciplined.”

The NYPD did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Charles, now 18, is seeking $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees, according to the civil complaint. He “suffered serious and severe personal injuries,” the complaint states. As a result of his injuries, he had to have his gall bladder removed, sustained a lacerated liver and left the hospital with pneumonia and a 12-inch open wound that required daily dressing.

The shooting drew comparisons to the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers in Nov. 2014 while carrying a toy gun. The City of Cleveland settled a wrongful death suit filed by the boy’s family in that case.

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Manhunt Underway for Killer of 2 Nuns in Mississippi

iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSON, Miss.) — A manhunt is underway in Jackson, Mississippi, for a killer who murdered two nuns.

Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merril, originally from Wisconsin and Massachusetts, were found stabbed to death at home Thursday.

Friends of the pair said the two women served the poor and the community for more than 30 years and both were nurse practitioners.

Police in Jackson suspect a robbery took place. The Catholic Diocese said the home was broken into, and the nuns’ missing car was found a mile away, according to police.

Police also said they were going through “a lot of leads” and they were in the process of questioning families who the nuns helped.

A wake will be held for the nuns at St. Thomas Church in Lexington on Sunday, with a memorial mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson on Monday.

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After Flooding, Some Louisiana Students Face Uncertain School Year

iStock/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) — In Southeastern Louisiana, where communities are reeling from deadly flooding that hit the Baton Rouge area on Aug. 12, many families worry not only about being displaced from their homes, but also what’s next in store for their children as some schools’ doors remain shuttered.

One of those students without a school is Parker Simoneaux, a senior at Denham Springs High School in Denham Springs, one of the most hard-hit areas. He was a little more than a week into the school year when the torrential downpours severely flooded the school, forcing it to close.

He doesn’t know when he’ll be able to return to the classroom.

“They have not set a start date yet,” Simoneaux told ABC News. “No one really knows. But they guaranteed that we will still get all of our education in.”

Simoneaux, who enrolled in Honors Physics this year, hopes to become a physical therapist.

“I’m ready to graduate. I’ll do whatever I have to do to graduate this year,” he said.

But now he’s displaced from his home. He’s currently staying with a friend, “but for a week or two it was wherever I ended up,” he said.

He’s not worried about falling behind in school but he’s itching to get back.

“It would just bring back some normalcy,” Simoneaux said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has called the flooding, which killed at least 13 people, “unprecedented” and “historic.” Edwards declared a major disaster for the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency was called in to provide resources and funding to help with recovery efforts.

The flooding damaged or destroyed more than 60,000 homes, officials said, and 102,000 people have registered for federal assistance. Twenty-four school districts were closed at some point as a result of flooding, according the Louisiana Department of Education.

Three of David Averett’s children also attend Denham Spring High School. Every home on their street was destroyed and the Averett family is now displaced.

Averett said his children “couldn’t wait to go to school this year.”

But now “the classrooms, they lost everything,” said his son, 11th-grader Conlan Averett. And in the meantime, he has nothing to keep him busy. “There is nothing to study,” he said.

His brother, 10th-grader Landon, planned on joining the fishing team this year. But he isn’t concerned about when they’ll be back. “They’ll figure it out,” he said.

For Denham Springs High School Principal Kelly Jones, the school was “my home.”

“I graduated from there in 1992,” Jones told ABC News.

“I stayed until the floodwaters came in,” he said. “And as soon as the waters left, two days later, I was back in the school assessing the damage.”

The damage to Denham Springs High School was severe, with all but six classrooms flooded, said Jones.

“To see the students and hold conversations with the students, that was the hardest part of the whole thing,” Jones said. “That was harder than seeing the school go underwater.”

No matter how quickly they can open the doors, Jones said, a lot of students are still displaced, and some of them will be forced to transfer out of his school because they are no longer in the Denham Springs area.

“Almost everyone who lost their homes lost their cars as well,” Jones said. “Because of the lost cars, we would probably double the number of bus riders at Denham Springs High School.”

In neighboring East Baton Rouge Parish, school officials echoed Jones’ worries. East Baton Rouge Parish students were in school for just two days when the flooding hit, and will remain out of school until Sept. 6, Adonica Duggan, spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, told ABC News, adding that she is unsure how students will make up the missed days.

“We do not have this many contingency days built into our schedules. It is not uncommon for the state to grant waivers of some make-up days in times of natural disaster,” Duggan said. “We would all like for our students to return to school as quickly as possible, but we have significant transportation issues to address before we can be sure that resuming school will be successful.”

Tania Nyman, an East Baton Rouge Parish school district parent, is looking for ways to keep her sixth-grader and fourth-grader occupied.

The family wasn’t displaced from their home, so while they’re at the house, Nyman said she’s making sure her kids keep busy by reading or practicing their multiplication tables.

And she’s taken the free time to teach them in other ways.

“I’m making them help me cook,” Nyman said. “We did some volunteer work.

“For us, we are having the challenge of making sure we have productive days at home,” she added. “I am more concerned trying to create something of a schedule so they don’t just sit in front of a television or sit on their devices all day.”

Nyman said she remains hopeful that the school district will be able to make up for the lost school days.

“I am not concerned about them falling behind, I am sure that they will make up the instructional days and they will be just fine in the long run,” Nyman said. “The challenge for us to get back up and running is that a lot of students need to be bussed, and they lost a lot of school buses.”

St. Joseph’s Academy, a Catholic school in Baton Rouge, resumed classes this week, said high school science teacher Linda Messina. But just because students are back in school doesn’t mean their lives are back to normal.

“We’ve had so many students and faculty and staff members who hold our school together lose everything,” Messina said. “They were totally flooded up to their ceilings.”

Despite the devastation, Messina, one of four teachers from Louisiana being honored by President Obama for excellence in mathematics and science teaching, is still trying to encourage the students in educational pursuits.

“One of my students said, ‘Ms. Messina the first thing I saved was my science fair project!’” she said.

What Happens Now?

As of Thursday, five of Louisiana’s local education agencies (LEAs) remain completely or partially closed, according to the Louisiana Department of Education.

“There are school buildings in open LEAs that are not in a condition [to] have children in them but they have either placed students in other schools in the LEA or found alternate space,” Bridget Devlin of the Louisiana Department of Education told ABC News. “All students in open LEAs have a place to go to school.”

And for the five LEAs still closed or partially closed, four have reopen dates — two on Monday, Aug. 29, and two on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Livingston, the LEA that includes Denham Springs High School, doesn’t have a start date.

Despite the uncertainty for Denham Springs High School, Jones, the principal, remains optimistic.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to keep Denham Springs High School alive and well,” he said. “So they’ll have to find a location for our students to go intact as one student body.”

Sarita Fritzler with Save the Children, a group working on the ground in Baton Rouge to help displaced children, said, “When it comes to learning, being out of school for two to four additional weeks on top of a two-month summer vacation can set children back for a long time.”

“Many children, especially those living in poverty, already tend to slide back in math and reading achievement up to two to three months over the course of the summer,” Fritzler said. “The most vulnerable children will now be even further behind by the time school starts, and it will be even harder for them to catch up. This can have a serious detrimental effect on children’s ability to succeed in school and life.”

“Really this disaster could haunt the rest of their lives if they don’t have access to continued learning,” Fritzler said, “not to mention the risks they face of serious emotional repercussions.

“Under normal circumstances, children might be excited to have their summer vacation extended, and there are surely kids in the area who still feel that way,” Fritzler said. “But the children who have been most affected by this disaster are feeling very shaken right now and they really need to feel a sense of normalcy again.”

East Baton Rouge’s Chief of Academic Programs Andrea O’Konski told ABC News she is hoping students can still use days out of school to further their education.

“We are fortunate that many of our families still have access to online resources and educational apps,” she said. “Our public library system is up and running, and they have created satellite mobile units across the area.

“This is a teachable moment,” O’Konski added. “There are so many opportunities for learning to take place around these current events. Students can explore the flooding in terms of geographical maps and elevations, government functions, weather and environmental science.

“We are encouraging parents to have students drawing and journaling as is age-appropriate to express their feelings on what they have seen and heard,” she said. “We also encourage parents not to neglect the importance of physical activity during this time. We have been so proud of so many of our students who have taken this opportunity to volunteer in cleanup and recovery efforts serving through various extracurricular clubs, athletic teams and school groups.”

And she recommends that high school students “use this time to research college and career opportunities and take advantage of entrance exam study resources.”

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